By Ciaran Warner
A dedication to independence and an extensive background in soil fertility and agricultural sustainability are just two of the things that make Doctor Gordon S. Rajendram a leading soil scientist in the New Zealand.
While he currently provides clear and concise advice to rural workers throughout New Zealand as an independent consultant, Gordon says his past work for AgResearch at the Ruakura Research Centre in Hamilton was crucial to obtaining his current level of expertise.
“I started out at Ruakura Research Centre, Hamilton. It was then the Ministry of Agriculture (MAF) which subsequently became AgResearch. All my training was done there – I started out as a student doing my under graduate degree, and was there while doing my masters and doctorate degrees,” Gordon explains.
“My time at Ruakura moulded me, mentored me. I worked under and alongside some of the top scientists in agricultural science – Stewart Ledgard , John Watkinson, S.S.S Rajan, , Ken Perrott, John Waller, Anwar Ghani and Mike O’Connor, all world experts well known in their field. I spent 22 years at Ruakura, they made me the scientist I am now.”
With five patents, two field calibrated soil tests for NZ, his research incorporated into Overseer nutrient model, and thirty-five years of experience in agricultural science with several leading companies, no one knows NZ soils and soil fertility better than Gordon.
As one of the most prosperous farming regions in the country, Waikato was the ideal place for Gordon to hone his skills while dedicating himself to ensuring the long-term health and sustainability of the region’s agricultural needs, having seen first-hand the harmful effects of inefficient or overzealous fertilizer application that all too often is the result farmers prioritising profits over environment health.
“This kind of thing is a big problem in New Zealand – farmers can’t be expected to be scientists, and bad advice leads of overuse of things like phosphate and underuse of other essentials. My top priority is the health of the soil, helping farmers to achieve sustainable, healthy growth through fertile soil,” Gordon says.
“My work has no input from fertiliser companies, I’m entirely independent.
His work in quantifying cations and anions leaching from soils in regions throughout the country, including the Waikato, Taranaki and Southland. The research and work done on this project was incorporated into the Overseer Nutrient Model, has subsequently benefited agricultural workers throughout the country ever since.
Further work on the testing of other key fertiliser elements, including sulfur and nitrogen, further cemented Gordon’s reputation as the go-to man for sustainable soil health, while also resulting in several patents and millions of dollars in funding for the companies he worked for.
“Farmers can and will save hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run in fertiliser, with proper advice and proper application. I’ve had clients who, through my advice, ended up making more money and working fewer hours as a result,” Gordon says.
“I’m bringing the science to the farmer, and preserving the link from soil health, to plant health, to animal health.”